Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Time for what?

Time is so vital. It's the only commodity that we can't replace. If I spend money, I can always earn more, but if I use time I've made a decision that is irrevocable.
So I want to be more intentional about my use of time. How sad, if I fritter away half of a lifetime. But the difficult thing is figuring out how to do that. There is so much I want to get done...books I want to read, photos I want to take, people I want to develop relationships with, time I want to spend with God. There are necessary things that don't energize me at all but nonetheless are my house, planning meals, buying groceries, doing laundry. I think the key is to turn those things around and make them deeper. If I could live each moment to the fullest, engaging my senses and enjoying the things around me, it would make even those necessary things fulfilling. I want to learn to take pleasure in even the small things. One thing that I want to do if find a way to integrate more music into my life. I think though, that I am hyper-sensitive. So many kinds of music give me a headache. And yet I like music. So there must be some out there that would work for me. Music has such power to move emotions. I tend to focus on one sense at a time, but if I integrated them, I think they would each be richer. Now, to do it!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday morning thoughts

Yesterday's snow was beautiful and I am so grateful for it. The temps are higher today and last night we had some light rain, so it's not going to last long. The artistic or romantic side of me is sad, I love the beauty, the softness it lends the landscape, the black and white of the views with just splashes of color to indicate a living creature, the bright red of a cardinal or the hot pink of a daughter's snow boots. But I also know that practically it's a good thing that it isn't lingering. Schools would be closed, businesses would lose money, some might be without electricity. Here's the funny thing. If we had a fireplace, I wouldn't mind losing electricity for a few days at all. I would enjoy the experience of huddling together in that room for warmth, of cooking in more primitive conditions. I don't the like the sameness of our lives. Well, perhaps I do and only imagine that I like the extremes. Maybe I can indulge in that belief because I don't really have to live it. But in a perverse way, the worse I heard Madagascar was going to be, the more my reaction split. On one hand, I like to tour and be pampered as much as the next person. But on the other hand it made my experience more real to more spartan. Because there was no physical comfort or pleasure in it for me, it made it more of a true action, unadulterated by passing rewards. Of course, I could then say that less comfort actually made it more pleasurable for me, so I am still functioning on the level of doing that which I most want to do. Confusing for this feeble little brain.
I was reading Tozer this morning and he was talking about the lack of closeness to God that most Christians experience, the lack of a personal relationship. He asks..."why do the very ransomed children of God themselves know so little of that habitual, conscious communion with God which Scripture offers? The answer is because of our chronich unbelief. Faith enables our spiritual sense to function. Where faith is defective the result will be inward insensibility and numbness toward spiritual things." Well, I'm not sure I agree with that statement. I can think of two men I know, quite well, who hunger to know God personally, to feel His presence in a tangible way in their lives, to know that they are hearing His voice, not to get what they want, but to know that they are communicating. I would guess that this struggle to come to grips with His perceived distance is one of their greatest trials. Yet both men continue to walk in obedience, despite the longing they have that has not yet been fulfilled. So are they to be blamed for not walking by faith? I think not. It's God's perogative to reveal Himself or hide Himself as He desires. After all, He is God and we are His servants. We have no more right to insist on His self-revelation than a servant has to demand an audience with the king or a child the right to commandeer his parent's schedule. Our job is to serve, even if it's from a distance. And isn't that true faith? To continue to serve and love when we don't get the immediate reward of relationship? Which has the greatest faith? The one who lives with another and is reassured daily of their love and can check up on their movements? Or the one who lives at a distance and trusts that the other is honoring the relationship even though they are not physically together?
And then, I was reading my Bible. I am reading through it, which is a good thing to do, otherwise I'd never read the books like Leviticus. I have to admit this whole question of slavery in Scripture confuses me. Not only does God not condemn it, He makes provision for it in the law. Now, if He had stuck to the way He defined it for Israelites, I would understand, it's more like an indentured servant than a true slave. But He doesn't. He allows for foreigners to be bought and sold, just as they were in early America. How can God, who values families and considers them to be fundamental examples of His relationship with us, allow them to be split by the buying and selling of individuals? On this same track is the question of polygomy. God also allows for it. Many say that He was just providing for what would happen anyway, but that doesn't make sense to me. He had no problem condemning many other things that were sure to come up. He made laws about the planting of fields, how to treat mildew, mixing fibers in clothing, tattoos...many things we would consider trivial. I don't think He hesitated to condemn what He hated. So the only logical assumption I can see is that He doesn't have a problem with slavery. I can see how God fearing men owned slaves. There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that condemns it, we are only told to be good masters.
The thing that frustrates me with these 'problem texts' is that the answers I get only seem to explain away they don't really directly address. People try to find a way to soften or mitigate what is being said but I usually find such attempts convoluted and unsatifying. I wish there were someone who could anwer my questions without making me feel like I'm just a trouble maker. I don't want these Scriptures explained away, I want the explained!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Quick entry

I get headaches. A lot of the time. Really often. Pretty bad. This morning I woke up with my head about to explode. Before I even sat up I knew that I had to take something for it. That's not a good beginning to a day when your first impression is of pain.
I'm pretty sure they are tension headaches. But my life is awfully good...why so much stress? Here are some of my 'maybe' thoughts.
I had guests coming this week, one junior officer and his friend and then the family of one of our mids. Our ds had asked us several times to come down to SC to help him make some decisions and to move. So I felt we needed to go. So I left the JO here and went. I came back to more guests. I had tried to go buy groceries before we left but the store was closed for the holiday. So I had guests and no food. Yesterday my dd asked if we could do a mother/daughter day and go prom gown shopping. I hate to shop, expecially in stores I can't afford, but I do love my dd and she's been struggling a bit, so I felt like I had to do that. Therefore no time to buy groceries. Today I still have guests. I'm late for church because dh went to buy a few things for me so that I can get dinner in the oven. Last night we went to a play and I was worried the whole time that dh was not enjoying it. He's often disparaging or at best noncommital about things like that. Oldest ds and dil joined us...another dimension of relationships that doesn't always go smoothly. While at the play I got a call from someone asking if I could give them a ride from the airport this afternoon. And I can.
But I have so much I need to get done...I haven't done justice to my new position as board member for OBI. I need some time to read and reflect. I need to get laundry done and rooms cleaned. And I have to balance all these people. I love people and I want to be there for all of them. I'm no martyr or hero or anything like that. I just don't know how to balance all the needs with out feeling like I'm going to either explode or implode.
And I feel like such a heel, because there are people out there with real problems. I think all of mine are of my own making.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Life in the ghetto

We are down in Charleston helping our son move houses. Really he just went from an apartment to a house across the street that he just bought. The house is called a 'Charlston single' and it's really cute. He had it completely redone, so the house has beautiful wood floors and nice paint, etc. But the neighborhood is still, well, a neighbor'hood' if you know what I mean. It's changing slowly, but Andy is still on the upside of the curve. So last night we fell asleep to loud voices and yells and I expected to hear gunshots, though he never has. I think I have an overactive imagination. More later. Gotta go now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Finding explanations

C. S. Lewis says: "For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves."

Temperament is an interesting thing. We are born with a sin nature. I have no doubt of that, the evidence around me supports it. I have never seen one iota of proof otherwise. We cannot attain salvation by our works. I completely believe that to be true. It takes the redeeming work of Christ on the cross to save us.

But temperament is different. As I look around I see plenty of folks that while sinful, seem more inclined to good. I see them fairly close to me. My sister, my husband, some of my children, friends all fit into this category. They don't seem to have the demons within them that tempt them to evil. So what is that? I don't look at myself and put the 'good temper down to myself' I don't think. I have had to face the fact that I truly am a worse person than many or even most. I so easily choose what is wrong over what is right. Of course, it has been a process to get there, to not say that 'if only so and so had only faced what I faced they would have done the same'. I have had to look the situation squarely in the face and admit that not only might others have done differently, others have faced much worse and done much better. It's quite discouraging. On the other side of the equation, in a twisted way, it's a sort of a gift. I know beyond any doubt that I don't deserve Christ's love and I have to wonder if some of those who seem to do good so easily don't feel as if God is quite lucky to have gotten them on His side? I only wonder because I realized that that was where I used to be. I wanted to have something to offer God for which He would be grateful. And no doubt that desire still lurks within me. I think perhaps because of that pride, He has allowed me to see that I have nothing at all to offer Him. No righteousness, no heroism, no outstanding character traits, no genius, nothing to give Him at all. And so, painful as that is, it is a gift He has given me. The humility of coming with only my failings isn't fun at all, in fact it's quite painful. And here is the catch for me. Though I know He knows my decrepit state, and I know the same, I'd really sort of like it if those around me didn't become aware of my baseness. I'd be quite happy if, even over my protestations, they believed that I was really quite admirable. And so I know that the pride lives on in me and will remain until I am delighted that others think ill of me if it helps them see God more clearly.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Walter Reed

I just returned from a trip to Walter Reed. I went over to visit a young marine who lost both legs in Iraq. He has multiple injuries and faces uncountable suregeries. It is amazing that he is still alive, the doctor's didn't think he stood a chance. And yet, somehow, he made it and he seems to be getting better, though he still has regular setbacks.
This is the first time I have met him. Some friends of mine are best friends with his folks and they are up here for the week, so they invited us over.
We didn't get into any really deep conversations, but this young marine impressed me with his attitude. We spent about an hour with him. I think we connected pretty well. He does not appear to be at all down, in fact he is making plans for the future. He hopes to go to law school when able. I had to think of myself and how down I get and yet how much more he has in his life that could depress him. He has never wished that they had let him die. He seems to know that he's on this earth for a purpose and he's content with that. His faith has not faltered throughout this whole ordeal. Just about every assumption he ever made about his future changed in a second. He'll no longer run when he's in a hurry, or water ski. He can't play his guitar unless they can do some corrective surgery for his hand mobility. I'm just amazed by his resiliency.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Waiting all day

All day, through the busyness and tending to the needs of others, I was looking forward to coming here and putting down some of my thoughts. Now that I'm here I can't remember what I was going to say. Sad, isn't it?
One thing I know surprised me. Susan found this site! I'm not sure how she did it, since I haven't told anyone I started it, but that's okay. Obviously, nothing on the web is private. But Susan, if you read this, please tell me how you knew I was here! And I hope you had a great weekend!
One thing I know that I've been thinking about a good bit is suffering. How do we explain it in light of a loving God? I understand the arguments for free will and man's ability to choose to do evil. But what about the sadness and suffering that comes as a result of "acts of God"? (And should that quote go inside the question mark or outside it?) Why, if God is loving, do things like cancer and tsunamis devastate lives? Surely they aren't the result of the fallen nature of man or man's free will. So how do I explain them in light of a loving God? I think that many of my reformed friends have no problem with this. After all, if some are destined for destruction anyway, what difference does it make how long they live on this earth? No matter what they encounter in life, they won't believe, they were created for destruction so it's all irrelevant. Suffering in this life is nothing compared to the suffering that lies ahead. But I can't reconcile that to the God of the Bible. I know that He talks about the chosen, but He also talks about the foreigners and the aliens. He also says that hell was created for Satan and the angels that fell with him. He also says that He desires that none perish. So there are seeming contradictions in Scripture. And yet, I know, that somehow they are all in agreement. I'm just struggling with how to reconcile all of them and the reality, or seeming reality, that I see around me. And let me tell you, I haven't reconciled it yet!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just doing some more thinking

The kids still don't have school tomorrow. So many houses are still without power, we were some of the fortunate ones. I would say we were blessed, but does that mean that those who lost power were not blessed? Was God for some unknown reason kinder to us than He was to them? He says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. I know that He is sovereign and in control, but does that mean that He decides which houses lose power? I'm just not sure. I tend to think that He lets nature pretty much do its' own thing, only intervening when it's important to Him.
I was thinking today about why I don't post more on LampPost. I'm sure there is more than one reason. But I know that one of the main ones is that I have so little education. And that's not a 'poor me' thing, because if it had been a priority, I could have educated myself. But most of the women have multiple degrees and encountered things in their college classes that are completely new to me. I don't think I ever studied any artist, I had only one memorable literature class and I had no science at all. What can I really contribute? I'm not doubting my intelligence, I know I have that, though I do think a few of the old brain cells have died. But I don't have the education, the experience, the exposure. And it's funny. I do like to learn. I was trying to teach myself German, I have taught myself some about photography, I enjoy biographies. So it's not that I am completely intellectually lazy, it's more, I think, that I don't even have a springboard to jump from. And so I don't say much, even though I usually read the posts. I wanted to change that and become more a part of things, but so far it's just not working.

Valentine's Day plus one

No school again today. Yesterday we were home as well. They had predicted snow for Tuesday, it didn't come until the afternoon and was wimpy then. But then the freezing rain came. It left everything covered with ice. It was beautiful and deadly. We could hear the canon shots of trees falling in the forest. Then as the sun came out in the afternoon, we heard the constant cascade of ice as it fell from the trees. It amazes me how something so small can build, drop on drop, to destroy things so much larger and older. The transparent weight destroys it's foundation.
It reminds me of the book I'm reading. It's called The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I almost never buy fiction anymore, but for some reason I bought this off the best seller's table having never heard of it or had it recommended. It's a sad story, but their is so much truth in it. The silent weight of a secret is in the process of destroying a family. I wonder how often our secrets destroy us, even those we keep to protect those we love. I wonder if the 'village' atmosphere perhaps kept people honest since everyone knew everyone else's business? I'm sure it was uncomfortable, but at least people weren't budened with the ghosts of the past.
Today I take dd to see a counselor. I hope it goes better than last week did. I felt emotionally raped when I left last Thursday. With hindsite, I wish that I had just refused to talk about some things that really weren't relevant to the discussion. Why did they need to know every painful detail of my life? Did it really matter for dd or were they just satisfying their own curiosity? By the end of the day last week, I felt like I deserved the title of "Most Dysfunctional Person" and yet I know I'm not. It was a deep well to pull out of, but I think I'm back on the edge now. And I'm so grateful to be out of the pit.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Getting started

I guess you have to have a first post sometime, so this is it.